What grade were you in when you first heard Depeche Mode? For some there’s an easy answer – for others, not a chance in hell of remembering that because it’s been way too long. For me it would have been my freshman year of high school way back in 198damnI’mold. George Gimarc was turning everyone in Dallas onto the rising new wave scene and Depeche Mode hit the ground running. Their break through sound set the tone for a generation of bands to follow. In the nearly forty years since their start, they have continued to make new electronic rock to please both themselves and their fans. Touring in support of their most recent effort, Spirit, the guys made a stop in the Dallas area last night for the first time in about three years.
The newly renovated Starplex Pavilion was at near capacity as opening band Warpaint took the stage to warm the audience up. This indie rock band from Los Angeles, CA has been around over ten years now, sending out some of the coolest dream pop you’ll ever hear. Guitarists/Vocalists Emily Kokal & Theresa Wayman front this all-girl group with Jenny Lee Lindberg on bass and Stella Mozgawa on drums.
A dimly lit stage shrouded the ladies of Warpaint as they took the stage, while it took quite a few minutes for them to hit their stride musically. Their sound was a bit darker and a little mellower than I thought it would be. Light, airy vocals sometimes came across as loud whispers while other times loud screams punctuated the striking guitar work. Drummer XXXXX did a fantastic job throughout, leading tempo changes and providing great backdrops for the extended jam sessions that flowed freely. Standout songs included “Undertow”, “Elephants” and the jamming instrumental “Intro”.
Taking the stage to their “Cover Me” instrumental video, Depeche Mode looked as lively as ever and the extremely full Starplex Pavilion audience let out a deafening roar. With the vast musical catalog they have, it was going to be an adventure for the ears I was prepared for. Jumping right into two new tracks off of Spirit, “Going Backwards” & “So Much Love”) Dave Gahan was all over the stage as he belted out the lyrics. His voice was still as strong & powerful as 20 years ago and he seldom ever stopped moving around the stage.
What followed was a pretty good retrospective of their career – some new and some old songs with plenty of cool sounds & inspiring lyrics. The older fans might have liked to hear more classics while their newer fans probably felt right at home. Besides the first two songs, we also heard the powerful “Cover Me”, the dramatic “Poison Heart” and the politically charged “Where’s the Revolution” from the new album Spirit. The old-timers like me enjoyed “Everything Counts” from 1983’s Construction Time Again, “Somebody” from 1984’s Some Great Reward, “Stripped” & “A Question of Lust” from 1986’s Black Celebration with just Martin Gore singing with keyboard accompaniment and finally “Never Let Me Down Again” from 1987’s Music for the Masses.
Mixed in amongst all of that were hits from different stages of their career and they left nothing untouched: the sweet keyboard intro to “Barrel of a Gun” and all of the little, intricate sounds of “Home” from Ultra, the even, measured tempo of Peter Gordeno’s bass during “A Pain That I’m Used To”, the sultry “Corrupt” and electrified “Wrong” from Sounds of the Universe and “In Your Room”, “Walking in My Shoes” and “I Feel You” from 1993’s Songs of Faith and Devotion.
The loudest screams of the night seemed to be associated with songs from 1990’s Violator album: Christian Eigner’s drum work during the beautiful “World In My Eyes” stood out, Martin Gore’s opening guitar lines gave away the uber cool “Enjoy the Silence” and the show closing “Personal Jesus” all rang true with the entire audience. That period of time must have been a bridge between the old and new fans as everybody enjoyed those three hits.
As you really listen to their music, Depeche Mode has always been more about the keyboards/synthesizers than anything – with Andy Fletcher leading the way and Martin Gore and Peter Gordeno pitching in, the sounds coming from the stage were magnificent!!! Eigner was a man on a mission behind the drum kit and Dave Gahan strutted & sang like there was no tomorrow. His character, glee and exuberance was beyond measure while the adoring audience ate up every second of it. I would have to vote for “Never Let Me Down Again” as the most stunning, complete song of the set – everything seemed to be hitting on all cylinders during that one. The newly remodeled Starplex Pavilion (with its higher stage, new seats & video screens and improved food/alcohol/merch booths) hosted yet another smashing show for the Dallas area music fans.